A multi-hour siege on a Kabul guesthouse that was taken by gunmen has ended with five dead. All of the assailants have been killed by Afghan security forces and no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Armed militants stormed a Kabul guesthouse late Wednesday, killing five and wounding several more before being killed by Afghan security forces early on Thursday morning, police said.
"Five people were killed and five were wounded - including foreigners and Afghans - in the attack on Park Palace guesthouse," said police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi. "Fifty-four people were rescued by security forces."
Police said all of the attackers were killed during the siege, though it is unclear how many assailants took part.
The US embassy confirmed one American had been killed in the attack, and the Indian ambassador wrote on Twitter that there were "a few Indian casualties" but did not say if they had been killed or wounded.
The militants struck the guesthouse at Kabul's Park Palace Hotel as it was hosting a party for foreigners on Wednesday night.
Commander Qadam Shah Shaheem of the Afghan National Army said police, army and special forces were in the process of rescuing those who had been trapped inside the guest hose.
"Today, there was going to be a music concert there. Fortunately, most guests had not arrived yet," Shaheem said.
"The rescue operation is still on ... It is a big, two-story building with several rooms, so it will take some time to clear it," he added.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban have previously targeted guesthouses in Kabul.
First year alone for Afghan forces
The Taliban launched its spring offensive across Afghanistan late last month and has stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets. The guesthouse is close to a UN mission office and other international agencies.
Earlier on Wednesday, gunmen attacked a government compound in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, where they killed 12 and wounded 12 more.
This year's offensive is the first in which Afghan forces are battling the insurgents without the full support of US-led foreign combat troops.
The NATO combat mission formally ended in December, with only a small group of follow up forces dedicated to training and supporting local security personnel.
bw, rc/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)